Travis Kittleson Prepares for Busch Series Start at Memphis TEST SESSION SHOWS THAT THIS UNDERDOG CAN COMPETE AGAINST THE BIG TEAMS CONCORD, NC (October 19, 2005) -- It might not happen very often, but sometimes the underdog can put up a good...
Travis Kittleson Prepares for Busch Series Start at Memphis
TEST SESSION SHOWS THAT THIS UNDERDOG CAN COMPETE AGAINST THE BIG TEAMS
CONCORD, NC (October 19, 2005) -- It might not happen very often, but sometimes the underdog can put up a good fight. The Houston Astros are still in the baseball playoffs after the powerhouse New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves failed. Another example; how about that computer programmer who once used his Labor Day weekend off, ten years ago, to start work on what eventually became eBay. And then there's Travis Kittleson, who has managed to take a family-owned short track race team and put together a Busch Series machine that can run right in the tire tracks of teams fielded by NASCAR Nextel Cup organizations.
Nestled among teams such as Richard Childress Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates at Memphis Motorsports Park recently, was Kittleson's #68 Chevrolet. The teams were all there to test for the October 22nd NASCAR Busch Series event at the track. While the teams might have been at the track for the same reason, there were worlds of differences between them. Childress' car enjoyed the sponsorship of General Motors' ACDelco brand, while Kittleson's R/T Racing Monte Carlo was actually sponsored by a dealership that sells the cars, Bob Steele Chevrolet.
Yet despite the inequalities in funding and support, Kittleson was only a click off during the two-day test.
"It went pretty well," said Kittleson. "On the first day, we were pretty good right off the truck, so we threw a bunch of new stuff at the car to learn what worked and what didn't work. When we started the day, we were only 1/10th [of a second] off what Clint Boyer and Johnny Sauter were running. When the day was over, we learned a lot."
The second day of the test was supposed to be a day when Kittleson and consultant Barry Dodson got to fine-tune the #68 car. However, engine problems changed those plans slightly.
"On Tuesday, we were starting to get better when we broke a valve. That happened around 11am and we got back on track with another engine at 2:30. We got better and picked up some speed. At the end of the day, we were about 2/10ths slower than Reed Sorenson. I don't think that was too bad considering that we lost over three hours of the test."
Staying close to the big dogs in testing means that Kittleson should have a fighting chance of logging an eye-opening finish in the race.
"Honestly, we don't expect to be able to go out there and go faster than Reed. We'd love to, but we just don't have the same resources. For example, we were running mismatched tires at the test. We were able to take leftover tires that other teams still had from places like Richmond and use those up.
"I think that we will have a top-15 or top-20 car when we go back to race. Our goal is to try and get a top-10 finish out of that. I would be tickled to death if we could qualify in the top 15 and finish in the top 10. I know we are capable of that. We came close last year with a definite top-15 finish going until we had a mishap in the pits. If we can have great pit stops and no mistakes this time, we'll be right there. We've still got a few things to try at the shop that we learned testing, so we'll be in good shape."